The American Half Smile

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The American Half Smile

“Peace begins with a smile.”Mother Teresa

I’ve perfected it. It is known around the world as the American half-smile.  It is a smile that does not reach your eyes. It is faking kindness for a second to be considered a polite person.

I grew up in New York where you don’t have eye contact or smile at anyone – just in case they suddenly have the urge to lunge at you, steal your money and slit your throat. I had to learn the half smile when I moved to California. It is a dead giveaway that you are American. Most cultures do not have this.

In China, Russia, and Eastern Europe , people don’t smile on the street. It is impolite to show emotions in public to strangers. Smiling at strangers make others question your motives or your sanity. 

Before  the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese authorities wanted to get more people to smile . Their approach was to encourage Olympic stewards to clench a chopstick between their teeth to develop their smile muscles.Russian border guards were also instructed to be less intimidating and smile more to be more welcoming to visitors. The  French tourist authorities also occasionally attempt similar measures. In Norway and Finland they say when  a stranger on the street smiles at you, he is insane, drunk or American.

 When I was younger and spending a summer on Mykonos, I moved into a house with other people. I immediately introduced myself. I was going to be living with them. “You’re American yeah?” said the very cute Australian guy.  “Yes, I guess you can tell by my accent.“ He replied that only an American would walk into a room and introduce themselves to everybody.

Studies blame our friendliness on the immigrants. They say that countries with less homogenous populations learn to smile and get along with all different kinds of people. 

Also Americans love their white straight teeth. By and large, the American dental care is far superior to most countries. Not everyone in the world flosses. We flash our smiles  around like the Amex cards that a few non-American businesses take. Un-naturally white, perfectly straight-toothed smiles have “U.S.A.” written all over them.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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July 4th – We Hold These Truths

  July 4th    We Hold These Truths

”May the foundation of our new constitution, be justice, truth and righteousness. Like the wise man’s house may it be founded upon those rocks and then neither storms or tempests will overthrow it.” Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, July 13, 1776

The importance of July Fourth is that it marks the birth of the United States of America.

The signers of that document composed by Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia, knew that a declaration of independence from the dictatorial rule of Great Britain would lead to war.

They understood that the strong British army would be sailing across the Atlantic to descend on the relatively defenseless colonies. They knew that they didn’t have the numbers, arms or training to stand against the British, much less defeat them militarily. Yet they put their signatures, lives, families, and their destiny, on that parchment.

Against all odds, and even against reason, that Declaration told the world that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”

Most of the people living in those colonies had simply had enough of British domination, of working and existing at the pleasure of a king they didn’t know and who obviously considered them his indentured servants. They wanted to be free, to make their own decisions and govern themselves.

The Declaration legally created the United States of America. But it did much more than that. It stated all governments everywhere were supposed to derive “their just powers from the consent of the people,” and that when any one of these governments became destructive of the people’s rights and liberties, the people could alter or abolish that government and begin a new one.

These words have served as inspiration for people everywhere.

But for Americans the Declaration has a special significance. It infused into our culture most of what we have come to believe and value. Our noblest ideals and highest aspirations—our beliefs in liberty, equality, and individual rights, including the right of every person to pursue happiness—came out of the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”  Declaration of Independence

Happy July Fourth and Fly Safe,

JAZ

Top Five Countries Americans HATE

Top Five Countries Americans HATE

“They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces.” Richard Wright, Native Son

CNN did a news report on the top five countries that Americans hate. It must have been a slow news day. Hate is a very strong word to use for countries. I looked at the list and it should have been the top five countries Americans fear. Isn’t hatred really fear? If you start making a list of the countries you hate, it will be easy to add more. A little hatred goes a long way.

5. Palestinian Authority

4.Afghanistan

3 Pakistan

2. North Korea

1. Iran

I looked up the countries Americans love and couldn’t find any. According to the internet, we only like or hate countries. Here are the top three countries Americans like. I guess Americans like countries they connect with or that make them feel safe. We seem to have forgotten WWII now so maybe the War on Terror will some day be a thing of the past .

3. Japan

2. France

1.Canada

This led me to my own list. Countries I will probably not go back to. I certainly don’t hate them. There were many things I liked about them. It helps if they have great art , architecture, Machu Picchu, shopping and beaches. But the reality is, if I don’t like the food, I’m not coming back.

4. Russia

3. Hungary

2.Lithuania

1. Latvia

I do really like the bread in these countries. Lithuania would be my #1 country in which  to eat bread because I love dark dense bread.

My favorites list  is not based on food, but coincidentally  consists of countries that serve my favorite foods –  fish and pizza. Everything else they serve is equally delicious.  I am starting to see a relationship  between dining and favorite countries. Food is definitely a big part of the cultural experience.  I didn’t have a lot of fish or pizza in Turkey but I did have pide ( bread melted cheese and toppings). My favorite countries (and food ) so far:

5. Italy

4. Peru

3. Croatia

2. Japan

1. Turkey

I will be happy to keep adding countries to this list !!!!

Fly safe.

JAZ